My Story

R

Robert

Guest
Somehow, all Amphicar lovers catch the disease. Here is my story.

I always wanted to include an Austin Healy 3000 in my car collection.
English cars were my first love! Hemming's Motor News was my source for the
years of searching that I did. I kept seeing Amphicars listed as "Am" is
just before "Au". I had always loved lakes and kept thinking that an
Amphicar would be a great way to explore the numerous small lakes located in
my town (Valparaiso, Indiana). I had always wanted to do that.

I probably read at least 10 articles written by a variety of automotive
journalists from many car magazines. They all said the same thing. "It is a
terrible car and a terrible boat and it should have never been built".
Luckily, against my better judgment, I looked at a car in Andersen, Indiana
in June of 1991. When I asked the owner "How is it in the water?", he
responded by saying "Oh no, I hate water. I bought the car because I thought
it would be a novel car to fix-up, but I would never take it off the road!"
I knew of Hugh Gordon, so I phoned him. He suggested that I get a garden
hose and fill the car with water to test it for leaks. This seemed logical,
and after convincing the seller that he should let me do it, I proceeded
with the strangest thing that I had ever done. Miraculously, it didn't leak
a drop, so I bought it for $9300.

I had told my wife about my Amphicar research, so she thought that I was
nuts. I wondered if I was!

It didn't take long for me to realize that these articles proved that
automotive journalists don't know what they are talking about. I was raised
around boats and know lots about cars and I couldn't figure out what these
guys were talking about. You people know how great Amphicars are. In my
opinion, these magazine articles helped put the nails in the coffin!

I am now on my third Amphicar; I ordered a restored one from Hugh. Remember,
the restoration wasn't rushed. It was finished in September of '99. This car
is great and I will probably keep it indefinitely, unless I find a right
hand drive car! If anyone has a lead, please notify me.

I always tell people that "Amphicars are only good for one thing: fun!"
 
R

Robert

Guest
I am an architect by education, but I feel I could have just as easily have
been a mechanical engineer. I love machines and that is one if the many
reasons why I love Amphicars. I enjoy saying "The inventor of this
incredible machine had it all figured out".

I have spent many years figuring out how to trailer the Amphicar easily and
economically. Over the years, I have borrowed numerous full-sized trailers
so I could take my car to many of the club events. I figured that I never
would own one, since they are so big to store under roof and my garage only
has 8' wide doors. I had a spot where I could store it outside, but we all
know about the steel and water thing.

I have owned Amphicars for 14 years, but only joined the club 6 years ago (I
wish that I would have joined years earlier; I had to learn everything
myself as I didn't know anyone that owned one). But I did have a great
mentor; Hugh Gordon. Yes, he was in business when I first started and the
parts were dirt cheap. Transmission (NOS) were $800. How things change!

I've wrestled long and hard over the idea of how to make a trailer that is
small and light. As the years have gone by, it has been getting harder and
harder for me to concentrate on staying perfectly centered in my lane with a
wide monster trailer behind me. It seemed like concentration was part of the
trailer game; turn wide, watch your distance, forget about U-turns, lots of
space to park, terrible gas mileage, drive slowly; the list goes on and on.
But then I found the solution. I saw an auto trailer in Celina that was
unbelievably small, but it was single axle. That would never work. But then
I thought about the 19' boat that I had owned for 10 years that weighed 1900
empty. but it had a 23 gallon fuel tank; the fuel is over 200lbs. Maybe a
trailer with a single axle would work to haul an Amphicar.

So I began my research. Every auto trailer person that I talked to said the
same thing; "Tandem axle is the only way to go. A single axle car hauler
should not be built!" Didn't all of the automotive journalists say about the
Amphicar "It's a terrible car and a terrible boat; it should never have been
built"? I stated that I was raised around boats and that I have been into
cars since I was 16....these guys didn't know what they were talking about!

I spoke to tire and axle manufactures. They told me that their axles were
rated for 3500 lbs, 1820 lbs for each radial tires. And don't forget,
engineers figure a safety factor of three in their calcs! I also spoke to a
number of engineers and trailer designers. They all stressed that proper
tongue weight was critical. But in the unlikely event of a total tire
failure of bearing failure, a properly loaded single axle trailer will
continue in a straight direction. When my trailer manufacturer was a young
man (over 30 years ago), he had numerous flat tires while at 60 mph on his
overloaded single axle travel trailer (he said his tires were junk, but he
and his family wanted to take a trip out West and he could not afford new
tires). He stated that in 5 failures never did the trailer move
side-to-side.

So I designed the perfect Amphicar trailer. And then the fun began. I spoke
to many trailer manufactures. A number of them seemed interested and liked
the concept once they understood that the Amphicar only weighed 2300lbs, but
they all ultimately said no because it was too custom; they just wanted to
keep building their standard models. It seemed that the trailer business was
hot and most manufactures couldn't keep up with the demand. But I lucked out
and found a high quality auto trailer manufacturer in my area. He has over
7000 car carriers on the road. And he loves the word "custom". He is even
more anal than I am!

Based on what I have learned, I feel that single axle is a great
alternative. We can even meet Wisconsin law and be under 3000lbs gross as
long as the aluminum trailer is opted. Someone mentioned that single axle
semi-trailer are double-tired on both sides of the axles. Yes they are, but
does that make any difference when something is hit that causes both tires
to fail?

We can go on and on. Is there a risk trailering a car? And things do
happen! But we all want to be as safe as possible, so the choice is yours.
The Not So Small Trailer Company has always offered both single and dual
axle.

Not So Big Trailer Company
Rob Vondracek
'64 red
 
A

a_colo_native

Guest
>>>Someone mentioned that single axle semi-trailer are double-tired
on both sides of the axles. Yes they are, but does that make any
difference when something is hit that causes both tires to fail?

Rob,

If a semi hits something (or gets hit) that causes both tires to
fail, they have MUCH bigger problems to worry about! I have many
friends and some relatives who are truckers, several with multi
million miles behind them. They say chances of anything puncturing
both tires is slim to none and none have ever heard of that
happening. Yes, anything is possible.

The axels of a semi trailer are located far back as the weight is
meant to be distributed between the trucks wheels and the trailer's
wheels. VERY different animals. Comparing boat trailers is also
different animals. -->Typically<-- boat trailers are not taken cross
country at hiway speeds. The weight may be the same or more, but it
is ditributed much differently on over the axels.

In any case, I see you offer a dual axel option. It is a nice design
and nicely executed. For me and my Amphi, nothing will do but a dual
axel setup. I will just use the same one I always have. In my case it
will not make one bit of difference in mileage. We get the same
mileage with or w/o a trailer. :(

John
<{{{=<
 
W

Wayne A. Miller

Guest
Those 40 foot motorhomes come to mind with all those TONS on that one little
axle. I don't see too many of them along the road with tire failure. (What
kind of wheel bearings must they have in those things??)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert" <rjv@drakebuilders.com>
To: "Amphicar Lovers" <amphicar-lovers@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2003 2:35 PM
Subject: [amphicar-lovers] My Story


>
> I am an architect by education, but I feel I could have just as easily
have
> been a mechanical engineer. I love machines and that is one if the many
> reasons why I love Amphicars. I enjoy saying "The inventor of this
> incredible machine had it all figured out".
>
> I have spent many years figuring out how to trailer the Amphicar easily
and
> economically. Over the years, I have borrowed numerous full-sized trailers
> so I could take my car to many of the club events. I figured that I never
> would own one, since they are so big to store under roof and my garage
only
> has 8' wide doors. I had a spot where I could store it outside, but we all
> know about the steel and water thing.
>
> I have owned Amphicars for 14 years, but only joined the club 6 years ago
(I
> wish that I would have joined years earlier; I had to learn everything
> myself as I didn't know anyone that owned one). But I did have a great
> mentor; Hugh Gordon. Yes, he was in business when I first started and the
> parts were dirt cheap. Transmission (NOS) were $800. How things change!
>
> I've wrestled long and hard over the idea of how to make a trailer that is
> small and light. As the years have gone by, it has been getting harder and
> harder for me to concentrate on staying perfectly centered in my lane with
a
> wide monster trailer behind me. It seemed like concentration was part of
the
> trailer game; turn wide, watch your distance, forget about U-turns, lots
of
> space to park, terrible gas mileage, drive slowly; the list goes on and
on.
> But then I found the solution. I saw an auto trailer in Celina that was
> unbelievably small, but it was single axle. That would never work. But
then
> I thought about the 19' boat that I had owned for 10 years that weighed
1900
> empty. but it had a 23 gallon fuel tank; the fuel is over 200lbs. Maybe a
> trailer with a single axle would work to haul an Amphicar.
>
> So I began my research. Every auto trailer person that I talked to said
the
> same thing; "Tandem axle is the only way to go. A single axle car hauler
> should not be built!" Didn't all of the automotive journalists say about
the
> Amphicar "It's a terrible car and a terrible boat; it should never have
been
> built"? I stated that I was raised around boats and that I have been into
> cars since I was 16....these guys didn't know what they were talking
about!
>
> I spoke to tire and axle manufactures. They told me that their axles were
> rated for 3500 lbs, 1820 lbs for each radial tires. And don't forget,
> engineers figure a safety factor of three in their calcs! I also spoke to
a
> number of engineers and trailer designers. They all stressed that proper
> tongue weight was critical. But in the unlikely event of a total tire
> failure of bearing failure, a properly loaded single axle trailer will
> continue in a straight direction. When my trailer manufacturer was a young
> man (over 30 years ago), he had numerous flat tires while at 60 mph on his
> overloaded single axle travel trailer (he said his tires were junk, but he
> and his family wanted to take a trip out West and he could not afford new
> tires). He stated that in 5 failures never did the trailer move
> side-to-side.
>
> So I designed the perfect Amphicar trailer. And then the fun began. I
spoke
> to many trailer manufactures. A number of them seemed interested and liked
> the concept once they understood that the Amphicar only weighed 2300lbs,
but
> they all ultimately said no because it was too custom; they just wanted to
> keep building their standard models. It seemed that the trailer business
was
> hot and most manufactures couldn't keep up with the demand. But I lucked
out
> and found a high quality auto trailer manufacturer in my area. He has over
> 7000 car carriers on the road. And he loves the word "custom". He is even
> more anal than I am!
>
> Based on what I have learned, I feel that single axle is a great
> alternative. We can even meet Wisconsin law and be under 3000lbs gross as
> long as the aluminum trailer is opted. Someone mentioned that single axle
> semi-trailer are double-tired on both sides of the axles. Yes they are,
but
> does that make any difference when something is hit that causes both tires
> to fail?
>
> We can go on and on. Is there a risk trailering a car? And things do
> happen! But we all want to be as safe as possible, so the choice is yours.
> The Not So Small Trailer Company has always offered both single and dual
> axle.
>
> Not So Big Trailer Company
> Rob Vondracek
> '64 red
>
>
>
>
> THE AMPHICAR-LOVERS LIST
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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>
>
 
R

rogtwo@aol.com

Guest
Re: Re: My Story

John, you say: "Comparing boat trailers is also different animals. -->
Typically<-- boat trailers are not taken cross country at hiway speeds. The
weight
may be the same or more, but it is ditributed much differently on over the
axels."

I think boat trailers are taken long distances at highway speeds just as
often as car trailers. If you don't believe me, then you might try asking at my
favorite web forum -- <A
HREF="http://www.trailersailor.com/forums/trailersailor/index.cgi">
http://www.trailersailor.com/forums/trailersailor/index.cgi</A>

Regarding the weight distribution, I don't see a big difference. Whether
it's a boat or car trailer, you should have the same proportion of weight
carried
on the hitch (usually 5 to 10%). With a power boat, this may mean placing
the trailer axle a bit further back, but if you look a sailboats (which I and
many others carry on single axle trailers) you will see that the axle position
is much the same as it would be for a car trailer.

I currently have three trailers: A double axle car trailer, a single axle
camping trailer, and a single axle boat trailer with a 19 foot sailboat on it.
Both the camping trailer and boat trailer weigh around 2500 pounds when fully
loaded. I also have significant experience towing my brother's 3000 pound
power boat on its single axle trailer.

I bought my boat in central California, and towed it home to Seattle. Then 2
years ago I towed it round trip to Monterey California. And, I plan to do
this trip (about 1000 miles each way) again this upcoming weekend. I generally
drive this distance in one or two days.

I check regularly to make sure my tires are up to pressure, and have luckily
never had a flat while driving. So, I can't speak directly to the handling of
a single axle trailer with a flat tire, but I don't think it would be nearly
as bad as a flat front tire on the tow rig!

I make a lot of long trips with and without trailers. I've regularly seen
single axle trailers on the side of the highway with a flat tire, or up on a
jack with the wheel removed. In fact, while driving from Vancouver to Seattle
yesterday I think I saw two! BUT, it is very rare for me to see a crashed
trailer on the side of the highway. I think this is a good indication that
single
axle trailers can normally be brought safely to a stop with a flat tire.

Sure a double axle trailer might be slightly safer, but I think the
difference in risk is VERY small, and I don't think it should be an overriding
factor
in anyones decision about which to buy.

Roger
White '63
Seattle




[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
 
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